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AmCup: Affluence to effluent, and back: the Joe Spooner (NZL) story

AUCKLAND, NZL (#1075) – Kiwi grinder Joe Spooner thought his America's Cup career was done, and poured all his efforts into portable loos. Then the call came from the New York Yacht Club. Suzanne McFadden reports.

He’s a two-time America’s Cup winner who’s now cleaning toilets across Auckland.

It may sound like Joe Spooner has fallen on hard times. On the contrary, the Kiwi sailor is flushed with success (pun intended).

Spooner may be driving a truck around the city this week, servicing portable loos for his company Kiwi Flush. But, in a few weeks’ time, you’ll find him in Newport, Rhode Island, sailing for the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic team. Training for the 2021 America’s Cup.

It would be Spooner’s dream to race for the Cup on his home waters, while looking back to see his sunshine-yellow thrones lined up along Auckland’s waterfront during the regatta.

He’s already offered his sanitation services to Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton.

Spooner loves both of his jobs – comfortably switching between affluence and effluent. He’s proud of the business he and wife, Melanie, set up when they returned home to New Zealand a few years ago.

“I serviced one of the toilets in Castor Bay the other day, and the people were like ‘Aren’t you the guy who did the America’s Cup?’,” Spooner says. “It’s a real leveller, cleaning toilets. But it’s a great way to make a living, and I get to drive trucks. It’s fun.”

At 44, Spooner can’t get the Auld Mug out of his system, even after leaving the holy grail of sailing on uneasy terms.

This will be Spooner’s fifth America’s Cup. The former St Kentigern College student first sailed as a grinder for Team New Zealand in the ill-fated 2003 campaign, before joining Americans Oracle Racing.

He won the Cup with Larry Ellison’s syndicate in 2010 and 2013, and was signed on to sail with them again in Bermuda last year. But Spooner and Oracle Racing parted company in 2015, after a contentious contract battle that ended up in a San Francisco court, and included the unusual arrest of an AC45 yacht.

“I wanted to do that last Cup so badly; I’d signed up, but then we had a falling out,” he says. “I really missed doing it; you kick yourself in a way. But now I have another opportunity to have one more good crack at it.”

The foregoing the opening few 'graphs in a delightful story by our longtime friend and esteemed journalist, Suzanne McFadden (NZL), which appeared today on the website about our former AC colleague, Joe Spooner (NZL). Through three Oracle campaigns, he was always one of my favorites for his competence, team spirit and work-ethic on and off the water. Even after a long day of grinding on the yacht, he was a reliable crewman for helping me inform and entertain VIP guests and the media.

Read the full story here, and I hope you get a good laugh out of the "good crack it" comment in the last quoted sentence above. Nice to see that Suzanne and Joe still have their subtle – and cheeky – sense of humor. Top photo by Steve Deane via Side photo of Joe via OTUSA from February 2013 before AC34 in San Francisco, the last America's Cup that Joe raced in. Good to know that he's back for AC36 at Auckland in 2021 with New York Yacht Club's challenger, American Magic.

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